Dismissing the Centres opposition,the Supreme Court Friday ruled that no candidate shall be allowed to contest election if he does not disclose full details about his criminal record,assets,educational qualification and such in nomination paper.
A Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam empowered the Returning Officer to reject nomination papers of a person if he fails to furnish the requisite information despite a reminder.
The bench held that the issue of adducing complete information affected a citizens right to know under the Constitution and,hence,any abstinence by a candidate was non-negotiable.
In succinct,if the Election Commission accepts nomination paper in spite of blank particulars in the affidavits,it will directly violate the fundamental right of the citizen to know the criminal antecedents,assets and liabilities and educational qualification of the candidate, the bench said.
The court said the purpose of filing an affidavit with the nomination paper was to effectuate the fundamental right of the citizen since she must have the necessary information about a candidate when she votes. When a candidate files an affidavit with blank particulars,it renders the affidavit itself nugatory, the court said,adding that a candidate must explicitly fill in Nil or Not Applicable or Not known in the columns and not to leave them blank if he wanted his nomination paper to be accepted.
If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning Officer,the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very sparingly,but the bar should not be laid so high that justice itself is prejudiced, the court said.
It rejected the governments contentions that a candidate who has filed an affidavit with false information and the candidate who has left the particulars columns blank should be treated at par and the Returning Officer should not be asked to reject the nomination paper. It will result in breach of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,viz,the right to know,which is inclusive of freedom of speech and expression, the court said while allowing a PIL which had sought its direction to ask the ECI to reject affidavits with blank particulars.